Nemesis: Inception, p.1
G. MICHAEL HOPF
Table of Contents
FEBRUARY 22, 2015
DECEMBER 3, 2014
DECEMBER 4, 2014
DECEMBER 5, 2014
DECEMBER 6, 2014
DECEMBER 7, 2014
DECEMBER 8, 2014
FEBRUARY 22, 2015
FEBRUARY 23, 2015
FEBRUARY 24, 2015
FEBRUARY 25, 2015
FEBRUARY 26, 2015
JANUARY 13, 2015
FEBRUARY 26, 2015
NOTE TO READERS
BOOK 5, THE NEW WORLD SERIES
EXCERPT FROM EXIT
Copyright © 2015 G. Michael Hopf
No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
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All rights reserved.
ISBN: 10: 1517407907
ISBN-13: 978- 1517407902
TO ALL THOSE WHO STRUGGLE BUT NEVER GIVE UP
“The only way to peace in this world is through the barrel of a gun.”
Gordon Van Zandt
February 22, 2015
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain
“Lexi…Lexi…WAKE UP!” the reoccurring voice from her dreams shouted.
She sat up quickly, her heart racing as a cold sweat clung to her skin. She wiped the sweat with her shaking hands and blinked in an effort to clear her eyes, but it did no good in the pitch-black space. Fumbling, she found a glow stick, cracked it and shook vigorously. Soon a yellow glow lit the dark crevasses of the room. Her vision adjusted, but the room offered nothing for her champagne-colored eyes to feast upon. The walls were lined with boxes, and at her feet, a large metal shelf held cans and bottles. The smell of the room at first was off-putting, but she soon didn’t notice the mix of dust, cardboard and stale beer. The damp back storeroom of The Mohawk Bar and Grill wasn’t luxury accommodations, but having a relatively safe place to rest your head from the winter cold and dangers of the road came pretty close. At first she had refused the offer for shelter, only accepting it when she realized the place was full of provisions and an older single man who she sized up as beatable in a fight. After surviving for two months in the new world, her situational awareness was always on. She chalked it up as one of the primary reasons she was still alive.
Lexi rubbed her eyes and grunted in frustration when the nightly dream that prevented her from getting the rest she needed popped in her mind. She had grown weary from her inability to sleep soundly. Before the collapse, sleeping had been one of her best friends. Not a weekend morning went by where she’d be awake by eleven, and her weekday mornings were a struggle to rise, each morning a repeat of the last as she hit the snooze button a dozen times. Now her sleep, if one could call it that, was punctuated with night terrors and restlessness.
A knock at the door startled her. She reached under the pillow and grabbed her pistol, a Glock 17 9mm semiautomatic.
“Lexi? Are you all right? I heard you scream,” the voice said from behind the door.
She looked and saw a dark shadow blocking the dim light from underneath the door. She didn’t know John, much less completely trust him. She had only met him a week before.
After her narrow escape from a small band of marauders, she had crashed the motorcycle she had stolen along the highway south of town. A small detachment of Marines had found her and offered assistance.
Not having a place to call home, the Marines took her to the Mohawk. The Marines had created a relationship with John not long after arriving in town. Crescent was a small town, and with no other business operating besides the Mohawk, it provided a place for what remained of the community to gather. John had no family and nothing else, so keeping his only love, the Mohawk, open was a natural decision for him. He quickly ran out of perishable foods, but his supply of alcohol was abundant and part of his plan was to use it as currency. John was a large burly man, his black hair now streaked with silver. His wife had left him years ago and, with no children, the townspeople were family.
During her stay, she had spent her time working out and training out back with her long sheath knives. Then she would find an excuse, any would do, to find adequate time to drink.
John found himself watching her and was impressed with her skills. In fact, he was curious who he had staying in his back room. Today he made it a point to find out.
“Lexi, you in there?” he asked again, this time trying the knob. The door was locked.
Lexi looked at the door; her instincts born out of the chaos of the new world told her not to open it. Not truly knowing John and with her numerous negative experiences, she remained hesitant to trust anyone. Then her reasonable and pragmatic side won out. She didn’t have a place to go and he had supplies she could use on her hunt for Rahab.
“I’m fine!” she called out. She walked to the door, unlocked it and quickly stepped back.
John opened the door slowly and gently poked his head in. The light from his lantern cast a yellowish glow across the storeroom.
“I heard screaming. I was worried,” John said, looking around the space.
Lexi had taken a seat back on the floor again, her pistol tucked in her lap. “It’s all right.”
“I’ll let you get back to sleep, then,” John said with a smile.
As the door was closing, Lexi called out, “Hold on!”
John craned his head back in. “Yeah.”
“Ah, what time is it?”
“Oh, um, it’s around five in the morning.”
“You hungry? I can whip up something?”
“Actually, I’m thirsty.”
“There’s some water over in the corner, help yourself,” John answered. He now half stood in the room. He pointed to a stack of bottled water.
“I was thinking of something a bit harder,” Lexi said, a smile now stretching across her face.
A big drinker himself, John thought for a moment then opened the door fully. “It’s noon somewhere, right?”
Lexi took the shot glass in her hand. The sides of it were slick from the over pour. One thing that hadn’t changed since the lights went out was her love of partying and drinking alcohol. Before, hard alcohol wasn’t her forte, but without ice and mixers, her favorites were no longer available. Determined to get the effect alcohol generously gave, she took to drinking whatever she could get her hands on. She looked at the bottle of Grey Goose and chuckled to herself. Before arriving in Crescent, she’d come upon a family. They had been welcoming even to the point of sharing their home-distilled spirits. The taste was repulsive, but she drank it anyway. She had never drunk paint remover before but only imagined that was what it tasted like.
She held it up and said, “What are we toasting to now?”
“Gosh, I don’t know, what haven’t we toasted to yet?” John asked, referring to the half-dozen shots they had already taken.
“I got one!” she said as she held her glass higher. “Death to all scumbags! May they die a slow and painful death!”
John raised his eyebrows in astonishment. He wasn’t prudish, but Lexi’s crude mouth and seemingly ruthless belief system did shock him.
She put the glass to her lips and with one gulp drank the vodka. “Ahh, that w
John hesitated but soon followed and swallowed his shot of vodka.
“Hit me up, bartender,” Lexi stated, sliding her glass towards John.
Ignoring her, he finally asked her an intimate and personal question, “Lexi, what happened to you?”
She leered at him and didn’t answer.
“Why are you…so angry?”
“Is that a serious question? Really? Look the fuck around. Who wouldn’t be angry?”
“Then you’re an idiot!” she snapped at him.
“Ha, I think you’re cut off,” John said, taking her glass.
“Wait, wait, wait, I’m sorry. That came off too…”
“Too angry,” John quipped.
John walked away with the glass and placed it along with the bottle of vodka at the back of the bar.
“You’re right, I’m sorry. You’re not an idiot, I am. I just don’t want to talk about…this,” she said, motioning with her arms referencing the surroundings.
“You’re going to sit at my bar, sleep under my roof, eat my food, drink my booze and not tell me who you are? You’ve been here a week and all I know is you drink a lot, work out and play with your knives.”
Lexi thought about what John said for a moment and came to the conclusion he had a point. “You’re right and I’m a bitch. I, um, I just don’t like to talk about stuff, because doing so makes it seem real. Just sitting here like we’ve been doing for the past two or so hours talking about nothing but old movies, food, cocktails etcetera allows me to escape the fucked-up world we live in. It allows me to…forget.”
John walked back and stood directly across from her.
“I’ve seen a lot of bad shit out there. I’ve seen what people are capable of. It’s disgusting and revolting and I fucking hate it,” she said.
“I can’t say I’ve seen what you’ve seen out there because I decided to stay right here. Never saw the need to venture out beyond the town limits.”
“Don’t. Stay right here. It’s a hot mess out there.”
John grabbed the bottle and her glass and placed it in front of her.
She reached for it, but he slid it back just a few inches, indicating he wasn’t quite ready to give it up.
The faint sound of John’s rooster could be heard outside.
Lexi craned her head and looked at the nearest window; there she saw the morning’s first light beaming through the thin metal blinds.
She turned back to John and said, “What do you want from me?”
“Nothing really, but if you’re going to stay here, I’d like to know who you are, at least. I don’t need to know the gory details. I’m just an old man who likes to know who I’m talking to. I look at it this way, before I lived my life not concerned about other people. I was one of those people who never listened to anyone. In a conversation, I took the time the other used to talk to think about what I was going to say. I never truly listened,” John said, and then paused to think. “You know, that’s probably why my marriage failed. I never listened; all I did was talk and talk.”
“Like now?” Lexi joked.
John smiled and said, “Yes, like now. I’ll just finish with this. After everything happened, I decided to listen. I finally told myself that life is fragile and all this can end at anytime, so why not take the time to get to know people. Everyone has a story.”
Lexi sat staring at John as a feeling of sadness came over her. Not one to show her emotions anymore, she decided to respond in a gentler way than her typical crass self. “Fine, sounds like a fair deal. You’re feeding and sheltering me, the least I could do is tell you who I am. The thing is, it’s not exciting. In fact, it’s downright boring, and the other shit that happened after was just plain horrid. But if telling you my boring story gets me another drink or two, I can do that,” she said. A smile broke her stoic face.
John too smiled and looked at the young woman who sat in front of him. If he had to guess, he’d say she was in her late twenties. Her choppy and unevenly cut hair looked like it had been blonde once, but her dark brown roots had grown out so long that what remained of the blonde was now just on the tips. Her body was not skinny but slender with lean muscle. Her eyes were a light brown and her skin was a golden tan from the sun. Across her face, hands and arms he could see signs of cuts and bruising, she had definitely been fighting her way from wherever she came.
He slid the glass back to her, pulled the cork on the Grey Goose and poured her another shot.
She grabbed the glass quickly and was about to slam it down when he interrupted her.
“Hold on, sweetheart. What are we toasting to this time?”
Lexi again smiled and her answer came quickly. “Let’s drink to getting to know one another.”
“I like that.”
They tapped glasses and drank.
Like before, she slammed the shot glass down and wiped her face. She could feel the effects from the vodka. “You have anything to snack on?”
“I can make some breakfast.”
“I’m not a high-maintenance person, just a bag of chips or something will do.”
“I wish, I ran out of…wait a minute, hold on,” John said and quickly went into the back.
Lexi took the time of his absence to look around the bar. Her previous self would never have gone into a place like this, it would have been too ‘redneck’ or ‘white trash’ for her. Her past life was filled with nightclubs or trendy hip places. She never was one for dive bars and or family-type bar and grilles, like the Mohawk. She spun on the stool till it faced a jukebox; without walking to see the playlist, she had a good guess the type of music that it held.
John returned almost giddy with excitement. “I almost forgot I had these,” he said, holding up a large family-sized bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.
“No wayyyy!” She squealed like a kid.
“They’re, like, my favorite.”
“Mine too.” He laughed.
“You, my friend, are definitely not a fucking idiot, you’re the man!” she said loudly, barely able to restrain her excitement.
“And if you don’t like that flavor, I also have…” He pulled a bag of regular nacho from behind his back.
“I’m not even high and I think I can eat a whole bag myself,” Lexi excitedly said.
“Help yourself,” John said as he opened both bags and placed them on the bar.
Lexi dove right into the chips. The texture and crispiness of the chips was still there. She only imagined they were past due, but she couldn’t tell if the quality was inferior. Maybe it was because she hadn’t had one in so long or she had forgotten how they tasted before.
“If you pull a Twinkie or HoHo out of your ass, I think I might have sex with you,” Lexi joked.
“As a matter of fact…”
“No shit?” she muttered, pieces of chips falling out of her open mouth.
John turned to leave, stopped, turned back around and said, “Joking.”
“I was joking too. I wouldn’t have sex with you, sorry. You’re just a bit too old for me,” Lexi said, stuffing a handful of chips into her mouth.
“Ha, sorry, sweetie, I look at you as the daughter type.”
“Since you want to talk about who we are, you go first,” Lexi urged.
“Nope, you go; I’m providing the feast and refreshments.”
Filling her mouth with a few more chips, she began.
“I was born and raised in a not-so-shitty little town called La Jolla to a bitch of a mother who cared more about her next dinner party or socialite function than taking care of me or my sister. I have to laugh now; we were more like props for her. We were raised by a series of nannies over the years.”
John just watched Lexi talk and all he could think was how someone could not love their children. He didn’t have the experience, but he felt deep down that if he and his ex had had
“My mom was such a bitch she drove my dad away when I was six; my sister was a baby. He couldn’t take her shit anymore.”
“I am too, I loved my dad. He won custody of us, but was killed in a small plane crash not two weeks later.” She hesitated as she dreamt about the life she could have had. “Who dies in plane crashes? I mean, the odds are so slim that it was like fate said I was fucked from birth. God wasn’t about to let me and Carey have a normal life.”
“I don’t think God—”
Lexi interrupted him, “No preaching, okay. I don’t care if you believe in God, but any God that would allow children to be mistreated and this shit to happen can’t be the nicest guy.”
John cracked a grin and said, “Fair enough.”
“Pour me another shot.”
John obliged and listened through two more shots as she described her school days. He just looked at her and thought that deep down was a little girl who had been hurt tremendously throughout life. She had grown up relatively wealthy, but a child didn’t really care about those things. A child values time and attention above all else. There she lived a life of poverty, one void of the love and nurturing a child needs from a parent. From what he gathered, she and her sister, Carey, had a very close relationship. Not wanting to leave her sister, she went to college locally. Then as if following a script of disappointment, her sister graduated high school and moved away to go to college. This deeply disappointed Lexi, but like a parent, she accepted it and decided that Carey was now old enough to take care of herself.